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Rio Airport’s Olympic Message Board Includes Fans’ Ryan Lochte Apologies
PHOTO: Messages apologizing for disgraced swimmer Ryan Lochte. (Courtesy Twitter)
As fans, tourists and athletes began to leave Rio this weekend, where the 2016 Olympics came to an end on Sunday, a curious thing happened on the message market board at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport.
Several people wrote apologies to the Brazilian people over the antics of disgraced American swimmer Ryan Lochte, whose over-embellished – some would say fabricated – tale of being robbed at gunpoint dominated the final few days of an otherwise splendid Olympics.
On the "Leave a special message to Rio" wall at airport. pic.twitter.com/aXSb3rgTwy— Sally Jenkins (@sallyjenx) August 21, 2016
Lochte and fellow gold-medal winners Jimmy Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger concocted a wild tale of being pulled over in their taxi last week by men posing as police officers. The police officers, Lochte said, ordered them to get down on the ground. When Lochte refused, one of them “pulled out his gun, he cocked it, and he put it to my forehead,” Lochte told NBC Today Show correspondent Billy Bush, adding that at that point he turned over his wallet.
As it turned out, security video footage showed the four had damaged the gas station’s bathroom and tried to cover it up with the robbery story.
"No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed," Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said at a news conference.
Lochte was able to get out of Rio before authorities began tracking down the group and seizing passports, making the dislike for him even more intense.
The message board even included one note that simply said “Ryan Lochte” with an arrow then pointing to the phrase “SOB.”
Feigen, in fact, cut a deal with authorities to donate almost $11,000 to a charity to retrieve his passport and leave the country. Bentz and Conger were literally pulled off an American Airlines plane on the tarmac at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport on Wednesday night, taken to a police station in the airport, interrogated, and found to have not played as big a role in the cover-up as Lochte and Feigen. Bentz and Conger were allowed to leave Rio Thursday.
Ironically, the Olympic message board at Rio’s airport was intended to be a keepsake and serve as a memory of the city hosting this year’s Summer Games.
Whether officials keep it there with the Lochte messages – or just wipe away those particular messages – remains to be seen.
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